Cheer’s Gabi Butler Gets Called Out For Reportedly Lying About Blackface Controversy

Gabi Butler on Cheer.
(Image credit: Netflix)

The cast of the Netflix reality show Cheer, which chronicles the nationally ranked Navarro College cheer team, is back in the headlines for another controversial reason. After cheerleader Jerry Harris was arrested in 2020 for sex crimes involving minors, the cheer squad finds itself embroiled in a blackface scandal, as a photo from an alleged initiation ritual was posted to social media this month. Now Cheer star Gabi Butler has been called out by a teammate for lying about the controversy.

After a photo of Gabi Butler in blackface was posted by an anonymous Twitter account, the cheerleader responded with a statement that explained the photo was taken in 2018, when she and other rookies on the squad were told by team veterans to dress in all black and paint their faces. She also shared footage of other teammates in blackface, saying that others, “including a few who also happened to be people of color” also went along with the request. However, her fellow Cheer co-star La’Darius Marshall denied being complicit in the blackface, tweeting

No, what we won’t do is throw the ‘other people of color’ under the bus. The rest of the minority’s spoke out against this, I personally talked to you and said that it was not a good idea. So no we didn’t all feel the same, I forgave you for it but don’t sit on here and LIE.

La’Darius Marshall, who had quit the cheer squad in Season 2 of the bingeable Netflix series but was still featured on the show, clapped back against Gabi Butler’s claims that the rookies, including Marshall, did what they were told without argument. He said other people of color also voiced their concern, and that he had even told Butler it wasn’t a good idea. Marshall also said in another tweet that the situation was reported to Navarro and other authorities, and no action was taken. In his words, blame should be put on: 

Our Coaches, and our President, and the cops, and the school board, and title 9 bc all were notified of such wrong doings and did NOTHING. That’s who she should have @‘td but she choose a cheap shot trying to make it seem like something that it wasn’t and I corrected her simply

It’s certainly not the first time the Cheer stars have seen controversy. Former fan-favorite Jerry Harris is currently serving a 12-year sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old during a cheer competition and paying a 17-year-old to send him sexually explicit video and photos via Snapchat. Harris reportedly admitted to other instances of misconduct involving minors but was sentenced for just those two charges due to a plea agreement. The situation was addressed in Cheer Season 2, with two of Jerry Harris’ accusers speaking out about why they came forward. 

It remains to be seen what the blackface situation will mean for Navarro College and Gabi Butler, who People reports signed a contract with WWE in November and is set to begin training at WWE's Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.